We caught up with Joe Bloxsome, Aled Davies and Matthew White, Co-Founders of Codeherent. Codeherent is a start-up based in South Wales helping businesses to understand and optimise cloud infrastructure with their automatic Terraform visualisation software.
The purpose of our article series ‘Product | People | Potential’ is to feature and showcase the very best UK start-ups with great potential: truly inspiring businesses that are shaking up their sector. We capture and share the stories behind the name. We collate authentic peer to peer real-talk, while celebrating the growth and success thus far and gather a glimpse of what’s ahead.
Joe: I’m Product Director at Codeherent. Codeherent automatically draws cloud infrastructure diagrams. It was the first product to market that visualised Terraform configurations directly from a Git repository.
Aled: I’m Director of Engineering. I’d say that we’re in the early stages of our growth. We already have a few thousand users but with some big plans for the coming months, we expect our user base to grow considerably.
Joe: Codeherent is a graduate company of the Alacrity Foundation, a start-up incubator supported by Wesley Clover and the Welsh Government. The co-founding team of Aled, Matty and myself initially worked with a FTSE 100 company to create a product to speed up their software development. We helped to optimise the testing stages of the software delivery cycle. Whilst doing that, we came across Terraform and Infrastructure as Code (IaC). We were fascinated by the potential of IaC but we saw that teams were struggling to communicate what Terraform was doing; this was slowing crucial DevOps processes down. We felt that we could create a solution and began developing the platform that we have today.
Aled: In our very earliest stages, we designed a highly customised product for one key client in the belief that there would be identical use cases for us to pitch our product in to. When gathering wider market feedback, we realised that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ doesn’t work. Evolving our product direction based on that feedback was critical. If we hadn’t done so, I think that our ability to retain and grow a team would have been decreased owing to general confidence in our product / market fit.
Joe: Accept that you’ll never have all of the answers from day one and that you’ll need to learn a lot as you go along. Balancing humility with unwavering confidence can be challenging, but it builds trust with key team members you’ll bring on board when you grow.
Joe: Validated Learning – resisting the urge to do what we think might work in favour of a more scientific approach. With Validated Learning, everything we do, from deciding which product features to build, to defining our commercial strategies is data driven. We start with a hypothesis and if the data validates it, we formulate more hypotheses to develop and improve the idea. This process ensures that we don’t waste time building features that users don’t want. It is also a great way to iteratively build a product that people truly want!
Aled: No matter how compelling customer feedback is, we always flesh it out with hypotheses and verify them as quickly as possible. As Joe says, it means we build what we believe the user wants. This helps us to accelerate our product and sales cycle.
Joe: We thought our initial approach of talking to a large potential customer and building what they asked for was a good one. It turns out that people rarely know what they want until they see it and this is a difficult place to find yourself in if you’re trying to create a product with potential. Fortunately, when we did start showing that product to potential customers for feedback, some common themes kept cropping up. We made the decision to pivot based on this feedback (our first case of Validated Learning!).
Aled: For the investor meetings, I have two pieces of advice.
1) Interrogate your own faith in your business and tell yourself why you believe in it. Investors can and will try to test that faith so you’ll need to be resilient to that challenge.
2) Know your numbers. Even if it isn’t usually your area or something you think will get directed to you, just know them.
Joe: Our initial and follow-on investment came about through people not too far removed from some of our closest contacts. Exhaust your existing network for introductions to potential investors. If your product has enough potential, there will always be someone willing to hear you out if you are introduced from a mutual contact.
Thank you for your time!